Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC
Venue: Orlando City Stadium – Sunday, March 5th – 17:00 ET (22:00 GMT)
Match Odds: Orlando 13/10 – Draw 23/10 – NYCFC 19/10
Orlando City and New York City kickoff their third MLS campaign this weekend, as the two Eastern Conference rivals face off in a historic tie in what will be the first competitive game at the brand new Orlando City Stadium.
Orlando failed to make the playoffs once again in 2016 and will be hoping for a better campaign this time around. Former New York City FC head coach Jason Kreis is starting his first full season in Florida and will be looking to take an immediate step forward in what is a really tough opener here.
The Lions had a mixed preseason, winning two of their five games, but they will need to be far more consistent than that if they are to make the playoffs for the first time in 2017. Orlando won just nine games last season and they’ll have to make a dramatic improvement to avoid giving their fans another season without much to shout about.
OCSC haven’t lost a competitive home game against New York City since they joined MLS and if they can avoid defeat in their opener it will provide a promising start to the season against a rival side expected to make the postseason for the second successive year.
The 2016 campaign was an ‘almost’ season for New York City FC, who made the playoffs but were eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals in devastating fashion, so they’ll be looking to go one better this time around.
Patrick Vieira’s side lost three on the bounce in their six-game preseason but finished strongly with a win over Sporting KC. The departure of both Frank Lampard and Jason Hernandez has lowered the age of the side, but with Andrea Pirlo and David Villa still in the ranks they still have plenty of experience.
This could be a transitional season considering the departures and arrivals to Vieira’s squad but it shows he is trying to build for the future. The acquisition of Designated Player Maximiliano Moralez is an exciting prospect for the City faithful and preseason offered a look into the potential link up between him and Villa, something that will be vital for success in 2017.
Orlando City’s preseason form: W/D/L/L/W
New York City’s preseason form: W/D/L/L/L/W
Key Stat: New York City FC are yet to win away in this fixture and given this is the first regular season game at the new Orlando Stadium it would be surprising to see that record broken.
Key Player: Kaka – It’s the obvious choice but this is a huge game for Kaka. A lot will be expected of him to lead Orlando to their first MLS win at Orlando City Stadium and throughout the rest of the season.
Orlando City SC 2-2 New York City FC – With previous results in mind and shake-ups for both of these squads during the offseason it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a draw here. Orlando are in for a tough season so they need to make their new home a fortress. New York City FC have a difficult task of reaching the same heights as they did in 2016 but they have the class in the squad, it all depends on how quickly the new-look team gels. Score draw.